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Premier League: Michael Skubala aims to lead Leeds United to survival

Leeds United are sticking with Michael Skubala as caretaker manager for their "upcoming fixtures" and his short-term tenure resumes on Saturday against relegation rivals Everton in a crunch clash at Goodison Park.

Skubala has been in temporary charge at Elland Road since Jesse Marsch was sacked last week and his opening game as interim Whites manager saw them draw 2-2 with Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Leeds were beaten 2-0 at home by the same opponents in his second match in charge, leaving the West Yorkshire club 17th in the Premier League, one place ahead of Saturday's challengers Everton.

WhatEverton v Leeds United
WhereGoodison Park, Liverpool
When15:00, Saturday 18th February
OddsEverton 7/5, Draw 23/10, Leeds 2/1

Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani had initially promised a quick appointment to replace Marsch, but they have endured several setbacks in their managerial search. Moves for Rayo Vallecano's Andoni Iraola and Feyenoord's Arne Slot were both quickly ruled out.

Skubala will be keen to push the Whites up the table during his reign and, despite their struggles so far this season, they are 4/11 'Not to be Relegated'.

Leeds are 2/1 'To be Relegated' and can also be backed at 2/1 to claim maximum points on Merseyside this weekend, having dispatched of Liverpool at Anfield earlier in the campaign.

Skubala hopes to emulate Solskjaer's early impact

Interim manager is a title that has grown in popularity in the Premier League over the years and, while some are only acting as a stop-gap for the season, others thrive and soon bolster their long-term claims.

Skubala is unlikely to become a permanent fixture at Elland Road, but while he is in charge in West Yorkshire he will be determined to showcase his managerial talents.

The 40-year-old is the Leeds reserve and youth team coach and is likely to soon resume that role, but this is an invaluable opportunity that can see him gain plenty of experience for the future.

And Skubala wouldn't mind being able to emulate the efforts of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United.

Although it didn't work out long-term for Solskjaer, the Norwegian did have an immediate impact when he replaced Jose Mourinho on an interim basis in December 2018.

United won 14 of their first 19 games under Solskjaer, including a dramatic Champions League round-of-16 win over French heavyweights Paris St-Germain, which ultimately rewarded the former Molde manager with the job permanently.

Despite guiding the Red Devils to the Europa League final and two top-four finishes in the Premier League, things soon turned sour for Solskjaer and he was sacked in November 2021 after 168 matches in charge.

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O'Neil appointment shows risks attached

Gary O'Neil was placed in caretaker charge by Bournemouth following Scott Parker's dismissal in August and his early efforts saw him land the job permanently.

O’Neil had 12 matches in caretaker charge and his reign started with a six-game unbeaten run, which included a draw at top-four hopefuls Newcastle United and a home victory over Leicester City.

The club were 14th in the table, three points above the relegation zone, when O’Neil was given a contract to the end of next season with the option of a 12-month extension.

However, things haven't been easy since and that rosy period is a distant memory, which highlights the dangers of permanently appointing a caretaker manager based on a successful start.

The Cherries have now gone nine games without a win in all competitions - they have suffered seven defeats in that period - and have dropped to 18th in the Premier League standings.

The Dorset club are just one point off safety but are 2/9 'To be Relegated', with rock-bottom Southampton the only team shorter for the drop at 1/5.

Bournemouth are 6/5 'To Finish Bottom' and are 3/1 'Not to be Relegated' under O'Neil.

Generous fixture list bolsters Skubala's claims

A double-header against Manchester United was not the ideal starting point for Skubala as Leeds manager, but the Whites performed with real credit and arguably deserved positive results in both fixtures.

Even so, a 2-2 draw with Old Trafford was an excellent result and Skubala now has a nice run of fixtures to get stuck into if given time to do so.

Following Saturday's trip to Everton, Leeds host Premier League basement boys Southampton before an FA Cup trip to Fulham.

Then, if Skubala is still in the role, Leeds head to Chelsea before a home date with Brighton and a visit from Wolves.

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